The U.S. of After Chapter 54

Clayton

All of us formed a line leadin’ to a long bridge that went out over the water and onto a large deck.  At first it didn’t resemble a ship, but when I looked closer and actually stood on the pavement I realized it was the loadin’ elevator of an aircraft carrier.  The ship was huge, as big as a skyscraper layin’ on its side.  The elevator we walked across was lowered down to let us on, but was actually the deck where the planes used to be lifted up so they could take off.  When the elevator was down, it emptied out into a hangar bay inside the aircraft carrier that was ever bit as big as a football field.  Turns out there was three of these inside, lined with cots and privacy tents.

They had gone to a lot of trouble.

Speakin’ of trouble, I sort of felt strange in my spirit about the whole thing, as if I was bein’ watched or somethin’.  I could also sense that Gideon was kind of bothered, but then again he always looked like that, sort of sulled up and bothered.  Amy and Anya was hittin’ it off.  That little girl was somethin’ else.

Amy kept goin’ on and on about the showers and the beds and the good food, even though I was sure she was upset we weren’t on that cruise ship.  I had heard that them things was top heavy anyways, and was glad to be on such a big boat.  It had been cleaned up and repainted I guess, ‘cause all the evidence that this used to be a United States vessel was gone.  I kept seein’ this flag painted everywhere that was like a globe with three curved lines comin’ out of it and didn’t know what to make of it.  I supposed that humans had to have a government, and just hoped that this one wouldn’t fight with its neighbor if we had one.

Wasn’t long before we was drawin’ anchor, and the captain, a fella with clean cut hair and a big bushy mustache, let us go up to what he called the folk-sill and watch.  That was the biggest chain I had ever seen, all covered with grease, the sea water beadin’ up on it.

Amy was the picture of happiness.  She sidled up to me once we was underway and put her arm ‘round me.  She didn’t smell so bad no more and neither did I.  That was a blessin’, somethin’ we take for granted when we have a nice warm bed and a roof over our head.

“Thanks for your help,” she said in my ear, and I could feel her warm breath blowin’ on my neck.

“No problem, Amy,” I said.  “What did I do?”

She laughed and hugged me up, and I hugged back.  Gideon had Anya on his shoulders and they were playin’ some kind of game I wasn’t sure I knew about.  I guessed that he was settlin’ in, but could see a glimpse of his bowie knife handle when he turned ‘round, and when he looked at me it was as if he was tryin’ to tell me somethin’ dark even though he was smilin’.

After the boat headed out, I climbed several flights of stairs and went through several bolted doors to get to the flight deck.  Them armed guards was everywhere, but I payed them no mind.  I thanked God for bringin’ me this far and sendin’ me to Jerusalem even though it was now called New Jerusalem and was supposed to be some kinda emerald city from the Wizard of Oz.

The sun, all faded and weak-like, was shinin’ down on the water, and I heard a voice speak to me inside my heart.  God told me in no uncertain terms, right there on the deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, to be sure to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

I caught His drift, and decided to do just that.

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